Exercise Write a First Draft

You're now ready to write a first draft. In Chapter Two, you created an outline or a Hub & Spokes model for a reference letter for a colleague. Review your outline or model to remind yourself of the points you want to make. What is your most compelling benefit? Where do you want to start? What's your objective?

While there are countless ways to write a letter of reference, effective ones share some qualities: a sincere tone, relevant information, and an offer to follow up.

Get your thoughts in order, answer the questions below, and get ready to write! Don't worry if you go blank. Simply draw a circle around the word or phrase you're struggling with (or on a computer, type xx). In the revision process we'll come back and figure out what to do with your circles (and we'll search for your xx's).

Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence length—that is, don't worry about the details. Focus on your subject matter, and then write.

1. How will you refer to your reader? By first name? By last name? What salutation is appropriate?

2. Write a lead. How do you want to begin your letter? Can you incorporate the Rule of First Reference?

3. How do you want to end? What's your conclusion?

4. Will you end with Sincerely? Regards? Do you intend to sign your full name?

5. Do you want to add a P.S.? Do you want to attach any additional material? If so, what and why?

6. Ready? Write a draft of the letter.

How did it feel to write the draft? Most people find that thinking first, then writing, equips them to write better communications in less time.

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